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Archaeologists from Iraq and around the world are trying to limit the damage to dozens of ancient sites that will be flooded by the creation of the Makhool dam on the Tigris River.

Now that construction has already begun on the dam, located between Baghdad and Mosul, archaeologists are attempting to convince the Iraqi Ministry of Irrigation to impound about 50 per cent less water to save some key sites.

But with tensions in the region rising over a possible US military campaign to oust Saddam Hussein in the coming months, researchers concerned with humanity’s heritage have a tough fight to gain the ears of politicians in Baghdad and beyond.

Reference: Science 295, 2189 (2002)